Dairy industry packaging trends for 2018

Danielle Ohl

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The dairy products packaging market, valued at $880 billion in 2016, is expected to grow at a rate of 4.5% over the next decade, Plastics Engineering reports. There are many factors fueling this growth; let’s take a look at four dairy product packaging trends the experts predict for 2018.

Enjoy snacking on dairy? You're not alone. Read about 4 lifestyle trends driving the growing snack industry. >>

1. Flexible packaging still winning

Dairy Reporter says that “flexible packaging for dairy has grown since major cheese companies…began packaging cheese in re-closeable, stand-up pouches.” When consumers visit the cheese section of the grocery store today, the majority of shredded cheese is packaged in stand-up preformed pouches with zippers. There are many benefits to this unique packaging format:

  • Portable and lightweight for consumers on-the-go
  • Re-closeable to protect product freshness over multiple uses
  • A premium look and attractive, prominent shelf presence
  • Maximum space for advertising and messaging
  • Less space required for storage

43% of dairy contract packagers report recently using pouch-filling machines in their operations. [Click to Tweet]

The majority of these unique cheese pouches are prefabricated and packaged on automatic pouch filling and sealing machines. As we previously reported, this type of pouch-filling machinery has risen as the most in-demand packaging equipment type in the dairy industry. Dairy contract packagers agree; 43% of survey respondents recently reported using automatic pouch-filling machines in their operations.

2. Simple package design...simple packaging equipment

Today's dairy consumers want simple packages, clean and clear labeling, and natural products that contain a small number of easily pronounceable ingredients. Less is definitely more. 

It only follows that this same concept applies to the packaging equipment used to produce modern dairy products. Say goodbye to over-designed machines with pretty but unnecessary bells and whistles. CPG companies today want modular, simple packaging equipment that is easy to operate, affordable to maintain, and requires little babysitting and maintenance.

A top option for simple dairy packaging equipment is the rotary bag filling and sealing machine. It's astoundingly easy to set up and configure, with no advanced technical training needed to operate and maintain. Changing over the machine to different bags takes less than 5 minutes and requires no tools. This equipment contains everything a dairy manufacturer or contract packager needs without making the packaging process unnecessarily complex.

3. Consumer convenience still reigns

Convenience is still a huge market driver, especially in the dairy industry. As we reported in 2017, today's busy consumers desire compact, portable, but still functional packaging that complements their on-the-go lifestyles. Dairy manufacturers and cheesemakers have responded by introducing products like:

  • Snack-size packages of cheese cubes
  • 100% cheese chips in stand-up zippered pouches
  • Protein multi-packs consisting of cheese, meat, and nuts
  • Single-serving stick packs of yogurt
  • Individually-wrapped cheese sticks

As the concept of eating dairy products as snacks or even meal replacements catches on in different demographics, expect to see the 'snack' and convenience food section of the dairy aisle expand.

4. Whey powder popularity

According to Datassential via Smart Brief, whey powder is a top trend that should be on everyone's radar in 2018. Whey protein is a by-product of the cheesemaking process and in the past was considered a waste product. Today, whey protein is a valuable commodity: A throwaway no more! It is used not only as a part of fitness and diet regimens but is also an essential ingredient in soups, beverages, and bakery products. 

Whey protein powder is a shelf-stable product typically sold in rigid plastic containers. However, we have seen an increase in CPG companies that desire to package this product in stand-up premade zippered pouches of all sizes, from 12 pound bulk bags to 1 pound retail pouches. The switch in packaging format is mainly consumer-driven: Flexible pouches are easier to transport in gym bags, being lightweight and easily compressible.

Read about more packaging industry trends

Whether it's cheese or chips (or cheese chips), the snack industry is booming, and packaging is shrinking. Download our free ebook to learn more about how modern on-the-go lifestyles are directly changing the snack market as we know it.

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